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Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349012865

Price: £12.99

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Cosmopolitan, richly intelligent, beautiful, questing – Shirley Hazzard’s writing reflects her life. The acclaim it attracts is immeasurable.



Brigitta Olubas tells the story of a girl from the suburbs of Sydney, Australia who fell early under the spell of words and sought out books as her companions. In the process she transformed and indeed created her life. She became a woman of the world who felt injustice keenly and a deep and original thinker, who wrote some of the most beautiful novels – Transit of Venus and The Great Fire among them – and always with an eye to the ways we reveal ourselves to another.

‘One of those rare biographies that sends one greedily back to the subject’s word, better equipped to appreciate the richness on display’
LUCY SCHOLES, Financial Times

‘Strikingly well-placed and well-proportioned… as befits her subject, Olubas comes with a gift for place and psychology’
MICHAEL HOFMANN, Times Literary Supplement

‘This new account of Hazzard’s life should confirm her as one of the 20th century’s greatest novelists’
CHLOE SCHAMA, Vogue

‘An impeccably researched and deeply incisive account of Hazzard’s life and work, and the intriguing interplay between the two’
LILY KING, New York Times

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Reviews

Extraordinary... Olubas's dedicated reading of Hazzard's diaries and papers, and those of others in her circles, has yielded an astute subtext of lived experience, literary and political influences... I read it in a rush of urgency and passion... I couldn't stop, and once I'd finished wanted immediately to return and reread the fiction... that is the mark of a successful literary biography
Sydney Morning Herald
Meticulously crafted... Olubas's biography is more than just a map of the author's movements... It's an account, as she puts it, of 'a writer in the process of making herself', chronicling how geographic, political, and psychic influences coalesce in a refined, deeply insightful perspective... This new account of Hazzard's life should confirm her as one of the 20th century's greatest novelists
Chloe Schama, Vogue
Olubas constructs a fascinating portrait of Hazzard's early life in Australia, and throughout she weaves in astute suggestions of biographical experiences that influenced Hazzard's fiction... An impressive, revealing, and worthy biography of one of the most important writers of the last century
Booklist
Superb... Strikingly well-placed and well-proportioned in its relation of a long life, and keeps a sound balance of youth and age, and books and life... Like and as befits her subject, Olubas comes with a gift for place and psychology
Times Literary Supplement
An impeccably researched and deeply incisive account of Hazzard's life and work, and the intriguing interplay between the two
Lily King, New York Times
Hazzard has found an ideal chronicler in Brigitta Olubas, whose Shirley Hazzard: A Writing Life is an exemplary work of biographical criticism... She can capture small things, like Hazzard's tone of voice... But she's just as sharp on big things, like Hazzard's early tendency to fall, dramatically and disastrously, for married men
Baffler
While evidently a champion of Hazzard's work, Olubas makes it clear that the writer had limitations, personal and professional... Olubas's biography demonstrates that for Hazzard poetry was the great, lasting force of self-rescue
Declan Ryan, Spectator
Lambent, discerning, deeply intelligent and empathetic... illuminated by Olubas's understanding of the elemental, almost alchemical interplay between Hazzard's lived experience and her fiction... one of those rare biographies that sends one greedily back to the subject's work, better equipped to appreciate the richness on display
Lucy Scholes, Financial Times
Hazzard deserves every page of this insightful biography by Australian scholar Brigitta Olubas, who elegantly reweaves the facts and fictions of Hazzard's emotional and intellectual life, tracing her determined rise from the doldrums of postwar Sydney to the cultural heights of New York and Italy
Guardian
Brigitta Olubas's definitive biography of Hazzard captures in abundance the idealism and ardor of a great cosmopolitan artist, radiant and indispensable
Benjamin Taylor
A woman raised in tumult seeks a higher realm in art and literature in this rich biography... Hazzard emerges as intelligent, complex and determined - fans of her work should check out this insightful portrait
Publishers Weekly
What a tremendous gift to Shirley Hazzard's readers! The whole pageant is here in glorious, granular detail... Brigitta Olubas has unearthed a wealth of archival material, which she sifts with psychological acuity and a profound understanding of Hazzard's work... The result is intimate, proportionate and supremely compelling
Michelle de Kretser
Shirley Hazzard's life reads like something out of a Shirley Hazzard novel - precise, unique, lyrical and always riveting... If there is such a thing as a perfect literary biography, this is it
Daniel Torday
A new biography that reveals the life to be just as remarkable as the work, and both essential to the story of 20th century literature
The Critic
An illuminating portrait... In this scrupulously researched biography, Olubas... charts the meandering course of Hazzard's life and travels, drawing on events and impressions that would inform much of her writing... Throughout, Olubas offers a discerning, cleareyed perspective of Hazzard's complex character and a persuasive appraisal of what distinguishes her work... An absorbing, well-crafted profile of a supremely gifted writer
Kirkus
Peels back the layers and shines a light on where Hazzard began, who she became and what shaped her literary achievements... An insightful and engrossing book which expertly maps, celebrates and illuminates Hazzard's eventful life
Wall Street Journal
Immersive, exacting, glittering... From letters, diaries, notebooks, and friends' memories, Olubas has built a dense, powerful narrative with real momentum - as freighted with incident and portent as a work of Dickens
Boston Globe
Olubas has a light touch; she presents the discrepancies between her diaries and letters without the need for invasive interpretation... She attends to Hazzard as only someone who loves her could, with generosity, fairness and a deeply human understanding
Charlotte Stroud, London Magazine
Brigitta Olubas's meticulous new account of Hazzard's life reads as a necessary corrective to prejudices about the author and her fiction... Olubas has managed to create an engaging narrative from a wide range of sources. Best of all, she has incorporated Hazzard's own versions of her life, both fictional and documentary, to create a character more interesting than we might have imagined
Inside Story
An extraordinarily rich and detailed biography... a brilliant achievement... Her style reads at times like a Hazzard echo
The Conversation